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Dear Mamas, Please Be Kind and Loving to Yourselves

Dear Mamas,

Please, please be kind and loving to yourselves. Don’t be like me when I was a younger mom!

This photo is from a beach trip we took to South Carolina when Grace, my oldest, was about 18 months old and I was newly pregnant with my second child. It was Grace’s first trip to a beach and I vividly remember watching her run up and down the beach. I listened as she yelled “I’m running Mama!” and “I’m jumping Mama!” and made all kinds of other announcements that an excited little person, who had recently learned to both run and talk (and was at the ocean for the first time), would make!

Meanwhile, I remember feeling “gross” and out of shape and got upset when my husband started to take photos of me playing on the beach with Grace. I was ashamed of myself for not losing all of the weight from my first pregnancy before getting pregnant again and did not want my body to be archived in photos. I had avoided having my photo taken for months.

I was the total opposite of kind and loving to myself--I was super critical and it pains me to think that I had this mindset at the time (especially when I look back and realize this was one of the best periods of my entire life).

I wish that I could hug my young, vibrant, healthy mama self from twelve years ago, the one in this very photo, and tell her that she’s beautiful and amazing and that her daughter does not care if she’s quite a bit above her pre-pregnancy weight.

I wish that I could hug my young husband, who persisted in taking photos of his wife and daughter playing on the beach (despite his wife’s protests), and thank him for preserving these memories and trying his best to convince his wife that she’s beautiful.

I wish that I could turn back the clock, relive these moments, and fill them with as much love for myself as I felt toward my daughter and unborn baby that day.

But I can’t do any of these things...

But I do hope to someday share this essay with my daughters, future daughter-in-law, cousins, friends, and nieces on their future journeys to motherhood. To help young moms bask in self-love and kindness much like I wish I had been able to.

I hope we someday live in a world where women don't feel any pressure to look a certain way, or to be a certain way, and can just be comfortable in their own skin, especially in the early years of transitioning to being mothers. Because it's hard enough to be a mom at baseline, and our babies need us to be gentle, kind, and loving to ourselves.

We also need to remember that our babies love us, and think we are perfect, just as we are!

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